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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Syntax—The Traffic Rules of Language     165
mque. Without the vitality they get from tone and gesture, long and
involved sentences call for excessive attention, and are less suitable for
rapid reading than a succession of short ones. So we rightly regard the
use of the short sentence as a criterion of good style in French or
English writing The rules of word-order make it easy for an English
or French writer to make the necessary changes in a first draft of
an intricate piece of reasoning The rules of German word-order
make it difficult to do so Hence it is not surprising that the style of
German technical books and journals is notoriously ponderous and
obscure. It is unlikely that Hegel would have taken in three generations
of Germans and one generation of Russians if he had been trained to
write in the terse English of T H Huxley or William James
The following citation from a book of a German scholar, Carl
Brockelmann (Grundnss der vergleichenden Grammatik der Semitischen
Spracheri) is a type specimen of Teutonic telescopy The key to the
English translation is that the verb are before K. Voller goes with the
last two words:
Diese von Th Noldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, Gottingen 1860,
erstmals dargelegten Grundanschauungen uber die Sprache des Q6rans
sind von K Vollers, Volkssprache und Schnftsprache im alien Arabien,
Strassburg 1906, durch die falsche Voraussetzung, dass die Varianten
der spatern Qdranleser, start Eigentumhchkeiten verschiedener Dialekte
vielmehr nur solche der ursprunghchen Qdransprache wiedergaben,
ubertrieben und entstellt
These by Th Noldeke, History of the Koran, Gottmgen, 1860, for
the first time put forward basic views on the language of the Koran are
in K Voller's Spoken and Written Language in Ancient Arabia, Stras-
bourg, 1906, by the wrong assumption, that the variant readings of the
later Koran scholars, instead of (being) peculiarities of different dialects,
rather only those of the original Koran language reflected, exaggerated,
and distorted.
The vagaries of German word-order are not a sufficient reason for
the vast gulf between the language which Germans use m the home
and the jargon which Geiman scholars write. Accepted standards of
such scholarly composition are also the product of a social tradition
hostile to the democratic way of life. Intellectual arrogance necessarily
fosters long-winded exposition when it takes the form to which W. von
Humboldt confesses in the statement, "for my own part, it repels me
to unravel an idea for the benefit of somebody else when I have cleared
it up " If one has to consult a German work of scholarship or techno-